This term refers to a well defined crime, the definition of which has been given in an international convention made after the Second World War: “the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” , approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution of December 9, 1948 and which went into effect on January 11, 1951, a convention which Turkey signed and ratified.
In the convention the definition of the crime of genocide consists of three elements: for one thing, there has to be a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Then, this group has to be subjected to certain acts listed in the convention. The “murder of the members of the group, and forced transfer of the children of one group into another group and subjecting the members of a group to conditions which will eventually bring about their physical destruction” come within the range of actions listed in the said convention. But the third element is the most important: there has to be “an intent of destroying” , in part or in whole the said group.
This key-description helps to differentiate between genocide and other forms of homicide, which are the consequences of other motives such as in the case of wars, uprisings etc. Homicide becomes genocide when the latent or apparent intention of physical destruction is directed at members of any one of the national, ethnic, racial or religious groups simply because they happen to be members of that group. The concept of numbers only becomes significant when it can be taken as a sign of such an intention against the group. That is why, as Sartre said in speaking of genocide on the occasion of the Russell Tribunal on the Vietnam War, that one must study the facts objectively in order to prove if this intention exists, even in an implicit manner. 1